England v New Zealand: Key Battles to Watch

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England v New Zealand: Key Battles to Watch
Clive Rose/Getty Images

England, in most sports, have a long list of opponents who take great pleasure in beating them.

Australia immediately spring to mind, but make no mistake, New Zealand don't especially like the English either when it comes to sport.

Their attitude toward the English isn’t quite viewed as being as narky as their antipodean cousins. But it’s there. Oh, it’s there.

Remember Andrew Mehrtens, that waspish fly-half with a boot like a laser but a public demeanour as introverted as a trappist monk on a sponsored silence? Even he found the English irritable enough to commit to print the opinion that England are "pr*cks to lose to" (via The Guardian).

Really? Even down there in the Land of the Long, White Cloud, that’s what they think of the English? Must have been a right pain to see their unbeaten season go up in red and white smoke at Twickenham last year; now you sense they are out for blood this time.

The pre-game phoney war has even enveloped their usually understated coach Steve Hansen, who has gone to the extent of suggesting in the London Evening Standard he will unveil "a few things they haven't seen before" to render England's analysis of the All Blacks a waste of time.

Whether Hansen has a box of tricks in his suitcase or not remains to be seen. His side is certainly a formidable unit, so let's have a look at the key battles they'll be looking to win against England on Saturday.

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